Organic is best.
All your clothes should be fair trade.
These and many other messages bombard us, especially in the natural health blogosphere. There are some fantastic resources (see my sidebar for some of my favorites), but it can be too much. Sometimes we need to re-focus.
When you feel guilty when your husband mentions paper plates or read the new dirty dozen. When you how quickly the trash fills stresses you out. When you cringe buying food that isn’t ideally packaged.
These are signs to me that I’ve lost perspective. That in trying to care for the earth I’ve become a slave not a steward. That I’m listening more to the voices advocating saving the environment than I am to the One that says I’m forgiven.
We are the rulers of the earth, not its subjects. We do need to care for the earth and not be wasteful. But as believers, there are other things saving the earth.
We shouldn’t be militant about our choices to the point where we divide with others or others divide with us because of them. We are not saved by how we care for the earth. If someone is completely wasteful, there very rarely might be a time to discuss change with them. But for the most part, if there is conflict because you disagree about how to steward the earth, you might need to re-check your priorities.
We also have to be careful not to let the time or money consumed by “going green” put stress on relationships. The earth is not our only limited resource. Time and money are not boundless either. There may be times to choose a “less green” option in order to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family. You may also choose to forgo organic and use the extra to support eternal investments.
The earth will one day pass away, no matter how well we care for it. The souls of those in our communities will last forever. Our food dollars should reflect this.
Because people have eternal souls, they are worth more than the earth. Thus, our priority needs to be on life more than earth.
This may mean buying ethical coffee, chocolate, or clothing so you aren’t supporting unsafe work environments. But it may also mean purchasing cheaper clothes so that sweatshop laborers have work and don’t have to turn to prostitution or leave their families in order to survive. Or it may mean shopping second hand and using the difference to support organizations working for change in those areas, like International Justice Mission.
It also means that the pro-life cause needs to weigh heavier on our political agendas than climate change.*
Another component of life is our personal health.
We need to watch what we put into and onto our bodies. Often what’s best for our bodies is also best for the environment and animals. Some people see a big difference when they eat organic and non-GMO. I don’t. But when I can buy organic, I do. I think there is long-term benefit to avoiding pesticides. Hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy production is a bigger deal to me. Plastics can leach hormone disruptors, so we avoid it.
But more important than all of those is eating a diet** free of processed sugars and flours and focusing on veggies and whole foods. And eating what feels right to your body. I feel sick on a high-fat diet. I need breaks from meat. Nuts and nut flours wreak havoc on my digestion, but I do just fine with wheat.
Eat to fuel your body.
*Natural disasters and changing weather patterns do affect people’s lives, as does our response to them. But abortion is a much worse problem.
**not dieting but just how you eat
Health goes beyond what we put into our mouths. I’ve mentioned stress already regarding relationships. But stress will also affect your health. You may need to change your standards if you’re stressed about budget or running short on time. Maybe you’re moving, just had a baby, your husband lost his job, or with little kids you don’t have time any more to make your own yogurt, bread, and broth, and buying it costs more, so you can’t buy organic milk anymore.
Conventionally grown and raised food might hurt your body in the long run, but stress definitely will, and it won’t take long.
While stewarding the earth is important, I believe that biblically our priority should be preserving life and community. Our buying power should reflect this.
With all that in mind, here are a few tips for reducing waste and/or plastic:
– only have one car
– cloth diaper
– pack your own travel food
– Buy second-hand! Not only does this solve the fair-trade issue, but it reduces waste and saves you money. But it can be hit or miss, even at places like swap.com and thredup.com.
– This goes for books, too – we love abebooks, book depository, and alibris.
– Reuse ziploc bags and plastic cartons – with caution. If they are breaking down, I throw them out. But for freezing chicken bones until I have enough for stock, whole loaves of bread, cooled beans, etc. I use them multiple times.
– I am moving towards freezing beans in Mason jars. But I’ve had liquids burst jars so am cautious.
– Often plastic-free options cost more upfront, but they last longer, especially with kids.
– There are so many things you can do; it’s overwhelming. Here we can get local chicken, eggs, beef, veggies – but last year chose to do one thing all the way and got our eggs from a farm down the road from church. So look at your budget and time and choose one or two things if you can or want to… and don’t worry about the rest. Freezing without plastic and buying things pre-packaged (ie, yogurt, sour cream) are things I want to think more about… but not raise my stress levels about! I’m interested in these.
Stuff we love:
– Plastic-free kids: They use regular plates and silverware — silicone lids **– 10 oz stainless steel cups – short stainless steel straws – u conserve containers (I found these second hand for $1 a set!) – klean canteen water bottle or sippy cup — pouches
– snapware for Ezra’s lunches – not plastic-free, but reusable and mostly glass. For sandwiches we use homemade beeswrap.
– we also use beeswrap and silicone lids in place of plastic wrap.
– travel mugs. Neither are plastic free, but mine is s’ip by s’well, and there is very little plastic.
– Reusable produce, bulk bags, and grocery bags. These make my life so much easier as I don’t have to go searching around the store for where the bags are located and I don’t have trouble opening them.
– wood or bamboo cutting boards
**some info on silicone… better than most plastics but still not ideal